Lin-Manuel Miranda in Conversation with Chris Jones, a review – “Musicalizing Moments”

Lin-Manuel Miranda in conversation with Chris Jones: Photo Credit Ben Gonzalez

On Friday, September 23, 2016, 3,625 Chicago Humanitarians Festival members and Chicago Tribune subscribers packed the Civic Opera House theatre to listen to a conversation between Lin-Manuel Miranda and Chris Jones. Miranda, a Grammy, Tony, Pulitzer and MacArthur Genius Grant award winner, who recently became a household name thanks to his creation of smash hit musical Hamilton, had a funny and playful chat with Jones, the theatre critic for the Chicago Tribune. Throughout the night, Jones led the audience through the incredible career of the thirty-six year old actor and writer while touching on many topics relating to what has made Miranda rise to the top so extraordinary. A wordsmith, much like Alexander Hamilton, the bases of this latest musical, Miranda captivated the audience from start to finish.

 

Miranda discussed his incredible career as a creator and actor: Photo Credit Ben Gonzalez

The first topic of discussion was Hamilton, which has recently started its highly anticipated Chicago run. As both the creator and star of the revolutionary show, Miranda called the role of Hamilton a “14-course meal” and affirmed how much he loved playing it and hopes to again in the future (if he can still do it convincingly). He also emphasizes that he loves to watch the show from the audience as well. This is remarkable considering he started working on the show in 2008 after finishing his other ground-breaking musical, In the Heights. While both productions are different in their own respects, something Miranda said really brought the two together for me. Miranda states, “You can’t worry about who tells your story…being survived by love and our loved ones, truly tells the story.”  In this way, he reveals how In the Heights was a sort of love letter to his family and old neighborhood and how being part of Hamilton and being able to use it as a platform to spread love and equality. Case in point, Miranda’s highly praised 2016 Tony Award speech; “Remembrances that hope and love last longer. And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love; cannot be killed or swept aside.” Jones commended his words by saying “the most admirable thing he has seen” and how much they impacted not only night,but days to come.

 

Miranda free styling about Chicago: Photo Credit Ben Gonzalez

Miranda free styling about Chicago: Photo Credit Ben Gonzalez

Jones and Miranda included Chicago in a big part of the conversations. Jones asked Miranda about his time in Chicago’s Humboldt Park and its Puerto Rican community. Miranda expressed how much it felt like home and that Chicago is a special place. He explained that he couldn’t think of a better place than Chicago to bring Hamilton for its first out of town performances. This lead to the most entertaining portion of the evening; Miranda’s freestyle rap based on Chicago themes, while Jones beat-boxed. It came as a surprise to no one how amazing this moment was and is sure to be something that the audience will remember for a long time. The conversation ended with Miranda receiving a standing ovation and taking a group selfie on stage with the theatre in the background, causing everyone in the audience to instantly check their Twitter accounts to download the picture. Overall, having the incredible experience to attend this event, and the opportunity to hear this remarkable man speak, will no doubt go down as one of the most remarkable nights of entertainment I have had the pleasure of attending. 

Group Selfie with Jones, Miranda and the audience: Copyright Todd Rosenberg/Lyric Opera of Chicago

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